Reaching out to the homeless can be a true challenge. Some suffer from mental illness and substance abuse problems that cause them to resist any efforts to help them… some are afraid or skeptical about offers of help.
Many find it difficult to understand why people would choose to live in makeshift shelters rather than accept help from the Mission. “Engaging the homeless is sometimes a long-term process,” said Chaplain Charles. “It may take a year or two before they will finally respond.”
On a typical day, the Outreach Chaplain heads to the Boardwalk and other areas of the city where the homeless hang out. He gets to know them, and offers them help by giving out coats, blankets, gloves, and socks in cold weather and bottled water in warm weather. You can help by donating needed items such as socks, gloves, blankets, and coats.
He offers to take them back to the Mission for medical care, meals, showers, and a safe place to sleep. Not everyone responds the first time. In fact, most don't. A major part of the Outreach Chaplain's job is consistency and establishing trust. For those who do accompany him back to the Mission, he continues the relationships by checking on them and helping to manage their case with the other Chaplains.
Recently, city police have been more actively engaged in working with our Street Outreach chaplains. This new combination is increasing the success-rate of moving people off the streets and into a life of independence.